North Down Alliance MLA, Andrew Muir has highlighted the need for more local places to be designated as bathing areas ensuring that crucial water quality sampling will take place with testing occuring throughout the year.
Mr Muir said; “I recently raised the issue of Water Quality and Safety at North Down Coastal Bathing areas in the Assembly and following correspondence with the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs I have requested that the popular bathing areas of Donaghadee Harbour, Orlock Point, Skippingstone Beach and Brompton are included in the review of bathing waters scheduled for 2022. These are not designated within the 26 current Northern Ireland bathing sites.
Action is needed to ensure participants of this ever-increasing activity are protected from the potential dangers of polluted bathing waters, given that water quality testing only takes place between 1 June – 15 September each year at a select number of sites. This is inadequate and there is a distinct need for year round water sampling to be undertaken and digital reporting of these results promptly issued.
In addition there is a necessity for increased investment in promoting safety and sea awareness across our coastal waters and I am encouraged to see the instalment of new safety measures involving signage for bathers at a range of bathing spots along the North Down coastal area which will inform and advise people on how to stay safe in the water.
I am however acutely aware that so much more needs to be done. Increased investment in the bathing water infrastructure such as bathing shelters, seawall railings, ladders and slipways will not only ensure that users of coastal areas can do so safely, but also that these inclusive spaces can be easily accessed by all.
With Storm Arwen having wreaked havoc throughout the UK recently I was saddened to see the damage caused to the sea steps used by swimmers at Brompton in Bangor and have contacted the Council to urge repair and replacement work be undertaken asap as I know there’s many hardy souls who swim here all year round”